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March 1, 2018




A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


On the last day of February 1968, the former Governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner, and his fellow commissioners released the Kerner Report on what was causing our urban centers to erupt in rebellion and made recommendations of what the United States should do to address the causes and prevent future urban rebellions.  The report’s fundamental conclusion 50 years ago was white America created the conditions, sustained them and had the responsibility of correcting the causes.

It made three central recommendations: (1) open new opportunities for those limited by racial discrimination; (2) empower racial minorities to improve their own conditions with the assistance of both our public and private institutions; and (3) increase communication between racial minorities and the white majority to eliminate racial stereotypes.  The Kerner Commission expected Congress to aid this process with legislation.

Racism still exists, and racial discrimination still exists.  In 2019 it will be 400 years since the first African slaves arrived on our shores in Jamestown, Virginia.  So, after 246 years of slavery; another 31 years of Black Laws; 58 years of legal apartheid; and continuing discrimination, when does America propose to fix this problem?

It’s not that we don’t know WHAT to do.  The Kerner Commission and many other studies have made many recommendations of what should be done to fix this problem.  It seems that it boils down to a LACK OF POLITICAL WILL on the part of America’s leaders and its public and private institutions to do what they know needs to be done.

It is the challenge of this generation to understand this legacy and fix this problem.  The American people are critical of today’s politicians for not offering them a big vision and a big challenge.  Well here is the challenge if any American politician has the vision and the courage to raise it and address it.

And it’s not in conflict with other national goals of full employment, job training, and universal health care, safe, sanitary and affordable housing for all Americans, a high quality and equal educational opportunity for all Americans, full participation in America’s democracy, rebuilding America by investing in its infrastructure in urban America, targeted suburban communities and rural America, along with other American needs.

What is good for African Americans and people of color is good for all Americans.  What is good for some Americans is not necessarily good for African Americans and other people of color.

And today, like in the past, the issue is not just racial injustice and inequality, but gender inequality and economic inequality.  The conditions that caused the Kerner Commission report to be written in the first place, unfortunately, are still present today.  Is anyone willing to take up the challenge of fixing them?




Frank Watkins


Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.


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